Friday, December 08, 2006

The Bible Jesus Read

The Bible Jesus Read

"And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ And He closed the book, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say unto them, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears’" (Luke 4:17-21 – King James Version).

I was sitting on an airplane, headed home from a mission trip. The man beside me asked, "What's that you are reading?" "The Bible," was my simple reply as I began to pray that God would open this man's heart that I may witness to him. "Yeah...I know that, but what book are you reading?" "Oh," I said realizing that the fellow was not completely oblivious to the fact that I was reading the Holy Bible; "I'm reading The Gospel According to Luke." "So, you're a Christian?" was his next question. "Yes, sir," I said, "And you?" "No," the man said bluntly, "by no means. I am Jewish." We began to talk and he asked me a lot of questions, mostly about why I believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Finally he said, "You do know that the whole New Testament is a lie, don't you?" A little taken aback by that statement, I said, "No, I believe it to be just as true as the Old Testament. I believe that the Old Testament spoke of the coming Messiah and the New Testament affirms that it happened." The conversation ended there for a little while. Later in the flight I asked, "Can I read you something?" "Sure," he said, "go ahead." I read Isaiah 52:13-53 without telling him where I was reading from. I asked, "What do you think that was about?" He said, "It was your Easter story...or at least part of it." I said, "No sir, that was from the prophet Isaiah." Incredulously surprised, the man said, "May I see that?" After a frantic conversation the man prayed to receive Christ.

The Bible that Jesus read from and taught from was what we now call the Old Testament. The day that He stood in the synagogue in His hometown, that was the book He read from; specifically Isaiah. It was also the Bible that the apostles preached from; the Scripture they used to point toward the resurrected Lord.

How much attention do you give to the Old Testament? I know this much; a good understanding of Old Testament Scriptures helps understanding the New Testament a lot easier. Our Lord Jesus certainly thought attending to the Old Testament was important. He said, "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until the heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God's law will remain until its purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19 – NLT).

Today's devotion is a simple reminder not ignore the teachings of the Old Testament. Do you want to understand the purposes, character, and plans of God in a clearer light? Even as you read the New Testament I recommend using a good study Bible or a Bible with cross references in it; take time to go back and read the passages that reference Old Testament Scripture. Each day spend time in both the Old and New Testaments. It will improve your walk and witness. It will help you understand the New Testament better and will further show you how God has dealt with mankind. Give it a whirl!

P.S. -- Thank you Lord for leading some wise saints to order the Scripture by chapter and verse. I know the Bible Jesus read (and memorized) did not have that advantage.

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